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Chetan TA, Managing Director – India, Murrelektronik

Image: Murrelektronik

Automation as a strategy “SME's are more interested in automation”

May 7, 2018

“I would recommend companies to plunge into new technology even if it means additional costs since they would be investing in their own companies’ future” - Chetan TA, Managing Director – India, Murrelektronik

Do you see any challenges while making automation as a fundamental part of the overall business strategy in the Indian manufacturing enterprises, in both SMEs and corporates?

Automation is a very broad terminology and needs to be further specified to the individual process levels for manufacturing. Challenges which were present 15 years ago aren’t any more valid & these have been systemically addressed by both SMEs & large manufacturers. What remains as a challenge is in optimising automation cost to performance ratio and helping companies to remain competitive in a global market.

A better approach to automation investment begins with a strategic vision that drives a methodical approach to business improvement. What would be your recommendations?

As stated earlier, R&D investment gives an overview on things to overhaul and therefore visionaries’ bank on that to strategise on smart investments for a better return. Success for us in Murrelektronik has come with customers who have the vision to improve their systems and efficiency than just saving costs at components levels. I would recommend companies to plunge into new technology even if it means additional costs since they would be investing in their own companies’ future.

How easy/difficult it is to align business & automation strategy in a manufacturing organisation and ensure the two are closely linked in the long term, especially in the SME sector?

SMEs are in fact more interested in automation since their overhead costs are not as high as large corporates. Hence, there exists flexibility & quick decision making power within individual owner to implement the same. However, the availability of capital poses a challenge, thereby, enthusiasm are often curtailed due to the fear of believing that if something goes wrong in the budget and not being able to sustain it. The solution for this conundrum should be implementing automation at the field level sensors & actuators to begin with and then slowly proceeding to the connectivity solutions. Finally, ramping up to the control level automation in order to familiarise themselves on the whole automation pyramid.

Consumer demand and relentless global competition have resulted in shorter product lifecycles and a renewed emphasis on quality and cost reduction. Can you highlight the current developments that address these areas?

As the industry moves towards Industry 4.0, the IO link concept is gaining momentum along with IP67 Remote IOs. Are we convinced that in 10 years’ time, everything will be on the field and nothing inside a panel? I believe that zero cabinet will be the way forward and we, in Murrelektronik, are heralding such a change globally as well as in India.

The effective execution of your automation strategy requires the right partner to help guide and drive the process. How can the partnership between solution provider, system integrator and end-user be more effective to further overall business objectives?

There is no perfect way to do things right the first time. Any new technology that gets introduced has resistance at all levels due to the lack of understanding. Therefore it’s imperative that all three of them – the service providers, SIs & EUs to build a partnership based on trust factor. Since the investment is top down approach, the end customers have to see the benefit with the automation system and initiate the service providers & SIs to customise it as per their need. Once it is successful, RoI is guaranteed with reduction of costs for any subsequent projects. ☐

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